Dual Boot Windows Vista 64

#1
I have two seperate HD's in my PC. I would like to install a copy of windows vista on to each hard drive. Reason being, I want to dedicate the one HD for Home Theater PC use so i can use a seperate set of drivers for that purpose only.

Right now I have two copies of windows vista installed on the two hard drives but they both boot off the last copy I installed, found on my C:\

How can I go about setting this up so the two copies of windows are totally independent of each other?

thanks for the help in adance, it's greatly appreciated.
 

JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
You can, but than again you can't. Its possible, but why go through the trouble when you've got a dual-boot going? The only thing the two share in common is the same bcd store used only during the boot proccess, but rest assured thier drivers and everything else like you want is separate.

Now should you need to have the other drive boot on its own when the other drive isn't present for some reason you may use startup repair from a Vista DVD or the recovery disc we offer to repair the boot and make the first copy bootable on its own.
 
#3
Hello Desisuperman. Welcome to NeoSmart Technologies.
First, you need to verify that the respective bootmgr, boot/BCD, files exist for both of your Vista systems. To do this, from one of your Vistas, go to Control Panel>Folder Options>View tab and check off the "Show hidden files and folders" option, and unselect "Hide protected system files". Once you have done that, next open up "Computer", and check the root of both systems' partitions. There should be a "bootmgr" file in the root, and a "boot" folder containing the BCD file. If there is not, then simply copy over "bootmgr" and the "boot" folder from the system that has it into the root of the other system's partition.
Next step: Assuming both systems did have those files already, open up Disk Management (Windows looking icon at the bottom left corner of the desktop>right click on "Computer">Manage>Disk Management), and verify that both systems' partitions are set to "active" on their respective hard drives. If one of them is not "active", then simply right-click on that partition, and select "Mark partition as active". And that should do it.
Now that you have done that, both systems should boot just fine if you set either hard drive as first in the boot sequence in the BIOS. You should test it and see (you should remove any extra entries in either BCD using EasyBCD's Add/Remove Entries section before the test, so you leave only the entry for the system you are trying to stand-alone boot, or at least set the respective entry as default, and set the timeout to 0 under "Change Settings"). If it should so happen that one of them fails to, it means the hard drive either lacks a Vista MBR or PBR (partition boot record). So to fix that, you will need to do:


  1. Disconnect any other drives that are currently connected to your system, leaving only your two Vista drives.
  2. Open up the Command Prompt (Windows looking icon at the bottom left corner>All Programs>Accessories>Command Prompt) from either Vista system.
  3. With the Command Prompt open, open up Computer so you can verify which drive letter is which system's partition (which btw will likely be different from system to system), so you don't get confused. Type the following commands (and press Enter after each one):
Code:
cd \Program Files\NeoSmart Technologies\EasyBCD\bin
MbrFix /drive 1 fixmbr /vista
bootpart /nt60 X:
where "X:" is replaced with whatever drive letter (as seen from the system you're booted in) your other system is located at. That will replace place a Vista type MBR and PBR on the other system's drive, and partition, respectively, and you should now be able to boot into the other system by changing drive order in the BIOS. Of course, once you do all that, you will want to add an entry to the BCD of the Vista system on Drive 0 (as seen from the BIOS) to boot the other system, I'm sure, so you wont have to go into your BIOS each time you want to boot into the other OS. :wink: But at least you'll know for sure that they are independent from each other, and you can boot into the other Vista if one of your systems fail to boot, by simply changing the boot order in the BIOS.

Cheers.

Jake

EDIT: Of course what Justin posted above is a lot easier (just as long as you make sure both Vista systems' partitions are set to "active" status on their respective hard drives, and the Vista system you're trying to repair's hard drive is drive 0 in your BIOS boot sequence), but I just figured I would go ahead and post all that info for fun...:tongueout:
 
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#4
Thanks for the quick replys, i do appreciate it :smile:

I'm a bit confused here now :wtf:

Coolname: I tried copying over the boot dir and bootmgr files but windows wouldnt allow me to copy over the boot dir entirely. I get an error saying the BCD files are unable to copy because they're open in another program ??? I tried this in safe mode as well and i get the same error

Both my drives are active and both have windows vista installed on them. When the BIOS loads it does not give me an option to pick the operating system I want to load and selecting that partition (hard drive) from the BIOS doesnt make a difference either. It always loads the partition on my C:\ I have tried selecting my D:\ in the boot menu of the bios but it just loads my windows on the C:\ (installed 2nd)

I'm prepared to a fresh install on both HD's. If I take this route what approach should i take to ensure I get this right from the getgo. My goal is to have all my programs installed on to my C:\ and dedicate my D:\ to use as a Home Theater PC. I want nothing installed on my D:\ other than what is needed to run a HTPC to eliminate any driver or software conflicts.

thanks again guys
 
#5
Thanks for the quick replys, i do appreciate it :smile:

I'm a bit confused here now :wtf:

Coolname: I tried copying over the boot dir and bootmgr files but windows wouldnt allow me to copy over the boot dir entirely. I get an error saying the BCD files are unable to copy because they're open in another program ??? I tried this in safe mode as well and i get the same error
Ok, I anticipated you running into this problem, but I was hoping you wouldn't have to do this because you would have them on both systems (which it now seems apparent you don't). There is a way to export (or effectively "copy") it over into a new location with bcdedit.exe via the command line, but I imagine you wouldn't want to go to all that work. :wink: So just follow Justin's advice, and run Startup Repair (2-3 times since it can only fix one problem per pass), with the Vista system's drive that does not have a BCD first in the boot sequence in the BIOS, and it will recreate a BCD for you on that drive.
Both my drives are active and both have windows vista installed on them. When the BIOS loads it does not give me an option to pick the operating system I want to load and selecting that partition (hard drive) from the BIOS doesnt make a difference either. It always loads the partition on my C:\ I have tried selecting my D:\ in the boot menu of the bios but it just loads my windows on the C:\ (installed 2nd)
You don't select the partition. You select the drive (that is, the hard drive) in the "boot sequence" (or "boot order" or whatever your particular BIOS calls it), and move it up in the boot sequence until it is first, and boots before the other HDD. Keep in mind drive letters differ from system to system, it is not physically attached to the partition, so there are often cases where the drive letters of the same partitions are different in one system than in another system in a multiboot. That is completely normal. :wink: To enter your BIOS, press F2 or Del (or whatever key it displays on the first splash you get to at startup, to tell you to press) right after turning on your computer, and when at the brand name's page. For instance, my computer is a Dell, and so the first splash screen I get to when turning on my computer is the Dell page.
I'm prepared to a fresh install on both HD's. If I take this route what approach should i take to ensure I get this right from the getgo. My goal is to have all my programs installed on to my C:\ and dedicate my D:\ to use as a Home Theater PC. I want nothing installed on my D:\ other than what is needed to run a HTPC to eliminate any driver or software conflicts.

thanks again guys
No need to go to that extreme. Following the advice here you will soon be able to boot either system by itself, or by the BCD of the current drive 0 (as seen by the BIOS).

Addendum:

If you want to use the command line to export the BCD to the other Vista system's partition, and configure it to boot the other Vista, perform the following:

Boot into the Vista system that has the BCD.
Open up the Command Prompt as "administrator" (by right-clicking on it, and selecting "Run as administrator"), and run the following command (and press Enter):
Code:
[FONT=Arial]bcdedit /export X:\boot\bcd[/FONT]
where "X:" is replaced with the drive letter of the Vista system (as seen from the Vista you are booted into) that does not currently have a BCD.
Now boot into the Vista system that has the BCD you just exported.
Open up the Command Prompt as "administrator" (by right-clicking on it, and selecting "Run as administrator"), and run the following commands (and press Enter after each one):
Code:
[FONT=Arial]bcdedit /set {current} osdevice boot
bcdedit /set {current} device boot
bcdedit /set {bootmgr} device boot[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]bcdedit /set {memdiag} device boot[/FONT]
Now reboot and test, and you should be able to boot into either Vista system without any further modifications by simply changing which drive is the boot drive (i.e. drive 0) in the BIOS.
 
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#6
Here is what i have done now. I disconnected all my drives except for one, installed Vista & then disconnected that drive (after installing vista) and connected my other drive. I then installed vista on the second drive.

Here's the outcome so far:

- Both HD's have their own boot dir/boot manager
- I'm able to manually boot each hard drive by loading the boot menu from the bios (f11) - Whichever HD I choose to install gets designated as C: drive and then changes to another drive letter when boot from th eother HD

Using this method seems as if it works. Are there and foreseeable problems by taking this route.
Is it posible to improve on this method by retaining designated drive letters for the individual drive so they do not change when I boot from a different drive. And perhaps being able to boot from the windows boot menu which allows me to select which operating system i would like to boot from.

Thanks again for the help :smile:
 
#7
Here is what i have done now. I disconnected all my drives except for one, installed Vista & then disconnected that drive (after installing vista) and connected my other drive. I then installed vista on the second drive.

Here's the outcome so far:

- Both HD's have their own boot dir/boot manager
- I'm able to manually boot each hard drive by loading the boot menu from the bios (f11) - Whichever HD I choose to install gets designated as C: drive and then changes to another drive letter when boot from th eother HD

Using this method seems as if it works. Are there and foreseeable problems by taking this route.
Ok, don't really see why you went and reinstalled Vista...
But you shouldn't have any problems using this method. Of course you can now add Vista entries with EasyBCD for booting the other system to both of your BCDs, so you can boot either system from either BCD.
Is it posible to improve on this method by retaining designated drive letters for the individual drive so they do not change when I boot from a different drive. And perhaps being able to boot from the windows boot menu which allows me to select which operating system i would like to boot from.

Thanks again for the help :smile:
No, as stated before, drive letters are OS specific. They change depending on which system you boot into. One thing you can do though is use Disk Management in both Vista systems to change the drive letters on any partitions other than C:, so they are the same in both systems. For instance, you can change your data partition (if you have one) to D:, your program partition to E:, and so forth, in both Vista systems so they are the same in both systems. But the OS you boot into partition's is always going to be C:, and you can't change that. As for being able to boot either system from the windows boot menu, I already answered that above.

Cheers.

Jake